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Fifty-Two Story Talks to Boys and Girls

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Fifty-Two Story Talks To Boys And Girls by Howard J. Chidley
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Title: Fifty-Two Story Talks To Boys And Girls
Author: Howard J. Chidley
Release Date: November 28, 2004 [EBook #14188]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TALKS TO BOYS AND GIRLS ***
Produced by Audrey Longhurst, Melissa Er-Raqabi and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Fifty-Two Story Talks
TO BOYS AND GIRLS
BY
REV. HOWARD J. CHIDLEY, B.D.
PASTOR TRINITY CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH,
EAST ORANGE, NEW JERSEY
GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & COMPANY, INC.
Copyright, 1914 by
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO
MY DAUGHTER
Elizabeth
FOREWORD
No department of Christian literature is of more importance for the future of the Church than that which seeks to enlist the children in the service of Christ. Mr. Chidley, by his gifts and experience as a pastor and a teacher of the young, is eminently fitted to contribute towards this most vital phase of Christian activity. His successful career in the Central Congregational Church of Brooklyn, where I shared the privilege of his valuable co-operation, and in the Trinity Church of East Orange, New Jersey, of which he is now the beloved and honored pastor, bespeak the merits of this series of addresses to Boys and Girls. They are at once an efficient protest against the Protestant neglect of the young and a remedy for that neglect. Parents, instructors, and guardians of the juvenile members of our Churches will be wise to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the teachings and exhortations presented here. It is a book of absorbing interest, and the little folks and those of older years can not fail to be both profited and delighted by it. The revolution in Christian thought concerning the relation of children to the Church and the Kingdom of God is apparent on every page. Dr. Martineau averred that children do not require to be led so much as not to be misled, and in these "Fifty-two Stories" we have a model application of his weighty aphorism. The receptive and expansive hours of child nature are admirably considered, and what is here written has a direct bearing upon its spiritual development and welfare.
S. PARKES CADMAN. The Parish House, Central Congregational Church, Brooklyn, N.Y., March 2, 1914.
CONTENTS
 FOREWORD INTRODUCTION A BIBLE RIDDLE CLOSED GATES HIRING A COACHMAN THE FIERCEST THING IN THE BIBLE SACRIFICE HITS THE LIBERTY OF OBEDIENCE CUTTING CORNERS HABITS A LESSON IN COURTESY LITTLE FOXES A TRICKY OX "SHINE INSIDE" THE STORM KING EAGLE A DOG WHICH ATE THE BIBLE STEAM AND SAILS A FISH-STORY OPPORTUNITY GOD IS NOW HERE DAVID LIVINGSTONE'S FAITH THE HAPPY MAN A SERMON FOR THE BOYS TIRE-TROUBLE WATCHING FOR IDLE BOYS CHRIST AND THE DOG THE BOY WHO WAS TO BE MANAGER A TALE ABOUT WORDS SUFFOCATED TREES ULYSSES AND THE SIRENS POISON-LABELS LIES THAT WALK
PAGE vii xiii 3 6 9 11 13 15 18 20 23 25 28 30 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 58 61 64 66 68 71
WELLINGTON AND THE SOLDIER ABRAHAM'S GUEST ABOUT GENEROSITY SUN AND WIND THE BOY AND THE TURTLE THE BOY AND THE NICKEL THE THREE FATES THE INCH-WORM AND THE MOUNTAIN THE FRENCH DRUMMER-BOY A KING IN THE STUFF BREAD AND WINE THE FIRST CHRISTMAS CAROL A HINT FROM A CARIBOU THE REPENTANCE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON EASTER THE WHISPERING GALLERY THE HE-SAID GIRL ON DECK THE TERROR BY NIGHT THE BRAMBLE BUSH KING WHERE IS HEAVEN? THE CHRISTIAN ARMY
INTRODUCTION
73 75 78 80 82 84 86 88 91 93 96 98 100 103 105 108 111 113 116 119 122 124
In a certain Western university the president receives a salary of ten thousand dollars a year for training young men and young women, while not many miles distant from that university is a stock-farm the superintendent of which receives a salary of twelve thousand dollars for training high-bred colts. That colt-trainer is at hand when the colt is foaled, and before it rises to its feet has rubbed down its head and put a halter upon it, so that from birth it shall be accustomed to the feeling of the halter. From that time the training of the colt is not suspended for a moment. If in training it to travel in harness a piece of paper should blow across the training-course, causing the colt to shy, an assistant holds the paper on the opposite side of the road, so that the animal shall have the kink taken out of its nervous system and its tendency to shy again in the same direction be at once corrected. The old method was to allow a colt to run wild until two or three years of age, then "break it in." The result was apt to be either a "cowed" animal or a nervous horse. Would that we were manifesting as much wisdom in the religious training of our
children as that horse-trainer. But unfortunately we are pursuing largely the old method, allowing our children to get full of all sorts of mental kinks up through those first plastic three or four years, and then handing them over to the church kindergarten-teacher for one hour a week, expecting her to straighten out all these aberrations and give back to the parents a normally religious child. Many parents seem to assume that the child's brain is lying dormant during those first few years, when, as a matter of fact, the child's mind during these years is most receptive, and expanding at a rate never after equalled. The nervous system is receiving impressions which, though in after-years the child has noconsciousmemory of it, are yet indelibly chiselled there for good or ill. It is high time that parents and religious teachers took more cognizance than they do of this fact. There are other parents who deliberately refuse to give their children any religious training during this period for fear of "unduly influencing" them from the religious standpoint. This point of view is stated, whether seriously or not, in the following quotation from a recent writer: "I think it is a bad thing to be what is known as 'brought up,' don't you? Why should we—poor, helpless little children, all soft and resistless—be squeezed and jammed into the iron bands of parental points of view? Why should we have points of view at all? Why not for those few divine years when we are still so near God, leave us just to wonder? We are not given a chance. On our pulpy little minds our parents carve their opinions, and the mass slowly hardens, and all those deep, narrow, up-and-down strokes harden with it, and the first thing the best of us have to do on growing up is to waste precious time beating at the things, to try to get them out. Surely the child of the most admirable and wise parents is richer with his own faulty but original point of view than he would be fitted out with the choicest selections of maxims and conclusions that he did not have to think out for himself. I could never be a schoolmistress. I should be afraid to teach the children. They know more than I do. They know how to be happy, how to live from day to day, in godlike indifference to what may come next. And is not trying to be happy the secret we spend our lives trying to guess? Why, then, should I, by forcing them to look through my stale eyes, show them, as through a dreadful magnifying-glass, the terrific possibilities, the cruel explosiveness of what they had been lightly tossing across the daisies, and thinking they were only toys?" All of which sounds very pretty, but when simmered down, the wisdom, if wisdom it be, of a statement like that can be compressed into the old adage, "Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise." But the point is that the world has pretty generally come to the conclusion that bliss is not necessarily the most healthful thing, either for adults or children. "Soft and resistless!" Precisely, there is the crux. If these "soft and resistless" minds do not receive good impressions they will receive bad ones, and it is the part of wisdom to get the good in first. Where a mind is "to let," some sort of tenant is sure to occupy. Coleridge put the case in a nutshell when an English deist inveighed bitterly against the rigid instruction of Christian homes. The deist said: "Consider the helplessness of a little child. Before it has wisdom or judgment to decide for itself, it is prejudiced in favour of Christianity. How selfish is the parent who stamps his religious ideas into a child's receptive nature, as a moulder stamps
the hot iron with his model! I shall prejudice my children neither for Christianity nor for Buddhism, nor for Atheism, but allow them to wait for their mature years. Then they can open the question and decide for themselves." Later Coleridge led his friend into the garden, and then whimsically exclaimed: "How selfish is the gardener to ruthlessly stamp his prejudice in favour of roses, violets and strawberries into a receptive garden-bed. The time was when in April I pulled up the young weeds,—the parsley, the thistles,—and planted the garden-beds out with vegetables and flowers. Now I have decided to permit the garden to go until September. Then the black clods can choose for themselves between cockleburrs, currants and strawberries." The deist saw the point. Another weakness in our system of religious training for children is manifest at the adolescence-period of the child. We have been in the habit of allowing the child to consider the Bible-school as his church. We send him to the Bible-school in his very early years, but make no demands upon him as far as specific church-attendance is concerned. And at the kindergarten-period we are probably wise in this; for after the child has attended kindergarten for an hour, it is too great a tax upon him to require him to sit through an hour's church-service. But after the kindergarten-period it seems to me the plain duty of parents to encourage the child to attend church, though not necessarily for the entire service; for if the child does not establish a church-goinghabit during these plastic years, the probability is that he will never form it. This partially explains why there is such a leakage between the Bible-school and the church. When the child gets "too old for Bible-school," not having formed the church-going habit, he is stranded
"Between two worlds, One dead, the other powerless to be born."
And the result is he drifts away from the Church. In the endeavour to remedy this situation in his own Church it has been the custom of the writer to have all children from seven to twelve years of age in the Bible-school, which meets on Sunday morning before church, attend the morning worship for the first fifteen minutes. During this time they hear the Call to Worship, the Invocation, the Lord's Prayer, the Children's Sermon, and the Anthem by the choir. At the close of the anthem the children file out with their teachers as the adult congregation rises for the Responsive Lesson. In this way the children are establishing a church-going habit, with the result that they early begin to feel that something is wrong on Sunday if they have not been to church. A word as to the content of the sermons preached. I believe that a child's religion ought to be largely of the motor type. That is, it should be concerned with getting religion into the child's hands and feet. In other words, it should seek to establish in him a habit of right-doing. For this reason his religion should be of the most practical sort, leaving the theory to come later. He should have sufficient theological pegs to hang his morality on, but he should be troubled little with dogma. For this reason his religion will probably have largely to do with the here and now. He cannot be much interested in an other-worldly religion. The normal child at this period will not sing with any great enthusiasm "I want to be an angel." For this world is to him just then a very interesting and
fascinating place. He is for that reason ready also to admire men of action, and is wide open for the influences of hero-worship. And while he cannot be argued into being a Christian, for he is not sufficiently awake to logic; and while he cannot be coerced, for he possesses the dynamic of a locomotive combined with the resistance of a mule, he can be magnetized into being a Christian if there is set as his teacher and example a virile, magnetic man. The boy will open his soul to him as he does his windows to welcome the breath of May. Such considerations as these have determined the content of these sermons. The author makes no claim to originality for much of the material presented, but he has given a new setting to old truths, a setting which experience has proved to be interesting to the children of his own congregation. It may seem that the wording of some of these sermons is beyond the grasp of the children for whom it was intended. Two things are to be noted in this connection. First, a child resents being talked down to. He soon detects a condescending smile and mock affability in a speaker. And when he detects these he closes the door of his heart against the message. Second, it is better to give the child something to grow to, provided it is not too far beyond his grasp. But here again experience is the best criterion. The children who have heard these sermons have enjoyed them, and have carried their substance and lessons home with them to repeat to older ears. They are offered to the public, therefore, in the hope that they may suggest a method, add a little to the scant supply of material for children's sermons, and serve to interest other children as well. H.J.C. Orange, New Jersey.
A BIBLE-RIDDLE
Boys and girls are all fond of riddles, and I am sure you will be surprised to know that there is one of the best riddles of all in the Bible, one that is very hard to guess, and yet one that has a fine lesson in it when I tell you the answer. This riddle was told by Samson on his wedding-day, and nobody would ever have guessed it if his wife had not let the secret out. But first I must tell where Samson got his riddle. Well, one day with his father and mother he was walking down the road to the land where the Philistines lived. And according to the story, a young lion rushed out at him from behind some bushes, and Samson, being a very strong man, broke its jaws and killed it, and left its carcass behind some bushes by the roadside. Some time afterward he was going down that road again, and he turned aside to see what had become of the carcass. And what do you think he found there? This: a swarm of wild bees had made their nest in that carcass. Now, Samson was fond of honey, and he took the comb of honey with him and ate it as he walked along the road. And as he walked he made up this riddle: "Out of the
eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." That means that out of this lion which would have eaten him up he got something to eat, and out of this strong beast he got something sweet. I suppose you will wonder what sort of lesson for boys and girls anyone can draw from that. You say you will never meet a lion on the roadside. I am not so sure of that. I think boys and girls meet things every day that are very much like lions. Of course, in these days we call them temptations. But, then, they jump out at you very suddenly and unexpectedly sometimes. And they would devour your souls just as this lion would have eaten up Samson had he not killed it. And when you kill a temptation by not giving way to it you can make a riddle just like Samson, and you can say, too, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness " For just like . Samson, every time you come to the place where you have overcome a temptation,—it may be to say unkind things, or to be quick-tempered, or to be hateful,—you will find that you will be stronger to overcome it next time. And the remembrance of how you were able to overcome your feelings will be sweet, just as that honey was to Samson. God says that if we trust Him, "the young lion shall ye trample under foot."
CLOSED GATES
If any of you boys and girls, while riding through a great city on an express train, ever chance to put your head out of the car-window and look forward along the tracks, you will see several blocks ahead of the train people in carriages, on foot, and in street-cars crossing the railway-tracks in great numbers, and it seems as if the train would have to stop, or else it would run over somebody. But the train never slackens speed. The engineer keeps on blowing the whistle, and the train thunders along at the usual rate. Then you will notice when you get near those crossings that all the gates are down and the railway-tracks are perfectly clear. That is the way with many of the difficulties we face in life. We set out to do the thing our conscience tells us to do, and it seems as if the road were full of obstructions. But you just go straight ahead, determined to do your duty, and lo, the hindrances disappear. When an earnest man goes right ahead, the crowd usually opens up to let him through. As you get older and face the world you will find it looks like a great, fierce giant. But really its fierce look is caused by a false-face that it wears to frighten faint-hearted people. You go boldly up and take hold of his beard, as David faced the giant, and you will be surprised to find that not only the beard but the whole mask comes off in your hands, and there is a kindly countenance behind. For the world would rather see you succeed than fail. I heard of a young man the other day who went into an office in Chicago to sell a bill of goods. The man behind the desk was very brusque and fierce-looking, and snapped out, "Well, what do you want here?"
The young man promptly replied, "I want first to be treated as a gentleman, and then I may talk business to you." The other man dropped his fierce manner at once, and the young man sold him a large bill of goods. The man behind the desk told him when he was leaving that he greeted strangers fiercely to try their mettle, and if they ran away he concluded they weren't worth troubling with anyhow. And so I say to you, boys and girls, be sure in your own minds that you are doing right, then go boldly ahead, and you will find the gates down and the tracks clear. Let this be your motto: "Silken-handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you for your pains. Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains."
HIRING A COACHMAN
There is a story that tells of a man who advertised for a coachman, and three men answered the advertisement. They all made a good appearance, and the man was at a loss to know which one to choose. Finally he hit upon this scheme. There was a road near his house that ran along the edge of a precipice. The man asked each one of these coachmen in turn how close he could drive to the cliff without going over. The first said he could drive within six inches of it; the second said he could drive within two inches of it. When the third man was asked he said, "I should keep away from it as far as possible." The man said, "You are the coachman I want." The way that last coachman felt about the precipice is the way for boys and girls to feel about temptation. Some things that are wrong are like thin ice: they tempt you to see how far you can go, and the first thing you know you are in. A boy, especially, is tempted to be what is known as a "daredevil;" that is, one who is not afraid of anything. But there is nothing in it, boys. That sort of thing is not courage: it is rashness, which is just another name for foolishness. Shakespeare once said: "I dare do all that may become a man, Who dares do more is none." The really brave boy is not the one that blusters and brags: the brave boy is usually quiet, but, as we say, "all there" when the pinch really comes. Christ was one of the bravest men the world ever knew, and yet He told us to be afraid, actually afraid, of things that hurt our souls. Do not see how near the fire you can go without getting scorched; don't see how near sin you can go without getting caught. It is poor business. Take this
as your motto when you are inclined to tamper with wrong: "Who eats with the devil needs a long-handled spoon." The farther you keep away from him, the better.
THE FIERCEST THING IN THE BIBLE
I suppose if I should ask you which is the fiercest animal mentioned in the Bible, I should get many different answers. Some of you would say the lion; some, the bear; some the panther; some, the wolf; and so on. But none of these is right, and I will tell you why. All of these animals can be tamed, more or less; but there is one fiercer thing than all these, and it cannot be tamed, so one of the apostles says. It is kept behind two red doors and more than twenty white bars, and its name is spelled as follows: T-O-N-G-U-E. Yes, that is it, the tongue. James says, "The tongue can no man tame." It is not only one of the fiercest things mentioned in the Bible, but it is also one of the crudest. I suppose you never thought that you could kill a person with your tongue, did you? And yet I have known some people say such mean things about others that those people were killed as far as living in their town was concerned, and had to move away, for all their influence was dead. A pretty safe way when you are tempted to say anything unkind about another boy or girl, who is not present, is to ask yourself if it is fair play, since the other cannot defend himself; for I know that you all want to play fair. That is the basis of all true sport. And then remember also that when once you have said an unkind thing you cannot take it back, for it lives on in spite of you. Perhaps you recollect the interesting idea which the old Hebrews had of the separate existence of words as soon as they were spoken. A curse once uttered could not be recalled because it now existed independently of the speaker. You remember the story of the blessing of Jacob by Isaac. Isaac could not give it to Esau, because it had passed beyond his control. "Boys flying kites, haul in their white-winged birds; You can't do that way when you're flying words, Things that we think may sometimes fall back dead, But God Himself can't kill them when they're said."
SACRIFICE HITS
I hope that all you boys play baseball, and that many of you are on baseball teams. If you are, I suppose you know what is meant by a sacrifice hit. It is called a "sacrifice hit" when the score is close and a player comes to the
bat, and, although he would like to make a run, nevertheless, for the sake of the man on the base, he makes a "bunt," so that, while the pitcher or shortstop runs up to get the ball and put him out on first base, the man on the bases may make another base. You see, then, that instead of making what is called a "grand-stand play" he just gives up his own glory for the sake of his team. Did you ever think that your parents are constantly making "sacrifice hits" for you? Whenever your mother goes without a new dress in order that you may have a better suit of clothes; whenever your father gives up some pleasure to keep you in school, they are making a sacrifice hit for you. And after all, boys and girls, that is about the only way the world has ever moved very far ahead. Socrates, an old Greek, made a sacrifice hit when he was put to death in prison with poison, because he wanted to make the young men of Athens wiser. Martin Luther made a sacrifice hit when he went to Worms, although he feared the Pope would kill him. But he was determined to get liberty for the people. But the biggest sacrifice hit that was ever made was made by Christ when He was crucified on Calvary, in order that the world might know that God was a Father and loved His children. And every boy and girl who would follow in the footsteps of Christ, and would be strong and noble, must be prepared to make sacrifice hits,—to forget themselves and do things for the sake of others. Jesus said, "I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." And a minister is one who serves, one who makes sacrifice hits.
THE LIBERTY OF OBEDIENCE
I know it would seem strange if I told you that every boy and girl has to be tied to something in order that he may be free. And yet that is the exact truth. The majority of you no doubt know what the multiplication-table is, and I am sure you have thought it a pretty disagreeable thing. Perhaps you have wondered why seven times eight is always fifty-six, and why your teacher insists that it shall be that every time. You don't see why it can't be fifty-five just once, or possibly fifty-seven. But, no, sir; it isalwaysfifty-six. When you get farther along in life I believe you will be glad to know that seven times eight isalwaysfifty-six, whether you meet it in the grocery-store, or in the bank, or in New York, or in Philadelphia, or in China; for it will be a comfort to know that the multiplication-table does not change, like many other things, as you go from place to place. Whenever or wherever you meet it, it is always the same. Now, because you were tied to that table as a boy or girl, you will be free to go where you like with it in after-life. The same is true about riding a bicycle. You know that in order to be free to ride a bicycle you must obey the rules of riding it; that is, when you are in danger of
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